Web

YouTube dating: Co-founder says Google’s video platform started life as a hook-up service

youtube dating service co founder steve chen
YouTube co-founder Steve Chen Joi Ito/Flickr
Forget viral videos, live gaming, and millionaire Web celebrities — YouTube’s original mission statement was to help you find love.

Yes, we’re not dreaming this up. If it wasn’t for a quick change of mind we’d all be using the service to find our next partner. According to the Google-owned video platform’s co-founder, Steve Chen, YouTube began life as a dating site. Whether or not it would have turned out to be the Tinder for video hookups is up for debate, but Chen is not so sure.

“We always thought there was something with video there, but what would be the actual practical application?” Chen told the audience at the South by Southwest tech, film and music conference in Austin, Texas, reports CNet. “We thought dating would be the obvious choice.”

Chen elaborated upon the original concept for YouTube, stating that it was conceived as a site for single people to make and upload videos introducing themselves and stating what they were looking for. Even the site’s domain name was registered on February 14, Valentine’s Day.

“Just three guys on Valentine’s Day that had nothing to do,” Chen remarked about himself and his fellow co-founders.

After five days, however, not one video had been uploaded to the newly launched site. It was then that Chen, and his colleagues, decided to ditch the matchmaking element altogether. “OK, forget the dating aspect,” said Chen about the change in direction. “Let’s just open it up to any video.”

It was clearly the right choice. YouTube, which was acquired by Google for $1.6 billion in 2006, transformed into a video behemoth that now attracts a billion visitors a month. Most recently, the platform introduced a new, ad-free subscription model called YouTube Red, which also boasts original content courtesy of its homegrown stars, such as PewDiePie and Lilly Singh.

Chen and former YouTube alum Vijay Karunamurthy were at SXSW to promote their new live video startup, Nom. The company has launched a live-streaming app and companion desktop service that lets users upload content and interact with celebrity chefs and restaurants.

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